Richard Norris of Hillsville, Virginia was underwent what’s said to be the most comprehensive face transplant last week by surgeons from the University of Maryland Medical Center. The 27-year-od man was shot in the face 15 years ago, which made him wear a mask given his face was completely deformed. He’s had multiple life-saving and reconstructive surgeries but none could fix his face (he had lost his nose, lips and most movement in his mouth) enough where he felt comfortable enough in society.
The operation lasted 36 hours as doctors gave him a new face from an anonymous donor (whose organs saved five other patients’ lives on the same day). After six days, he was able to move his tongue and open and close his eyes, much faster than what doctors expected. According to Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez, associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center and head of the transplant team, Norris is now “looking in the mirror shaving and brushing his teeth,” something that was never even expected. The first thing after he opened his eyes on the third day of surgery that he wanted was a mirror to see his new face. Norris is still recovering and is the first full face transplant recipient in the United States to retain his eyesight.